Last evening I attended a lovely Ash Wednesday mass celebrated by a brand-new priest from Brazil, whose gentle mannerisms, warm personality and radiant smile added a welcome new dimension to the traditional Catholic ritual. My dad, who has been a member of the choir for several years also participated in last night’s services, which included some lovely new songs I’d never heard before. And it felt good to be “home” again.
Anyway after receiving the ashes with the admonition, “Repent and believe in the Gospels”, we headed to the chapel to pick up a copy of Five Minutes with the Word: Lent 2012, a daily devotional similar to the Daily Word featuring a unique Biblical quote each day followed by a modern-day interpretation to apply to our individual lives.
For the next 40 days, I will reflect upon each entry here, beginning with yesterday’s Ash Wednesday words of wisdom:
A meditation based on Joel 2:12-18
Let the bridegroom quite his room and the bride her chamber. (Joel 2:16)
This is quite an astonishing image for the beginning of Lent! What could be so important? Why would Joel call newlyweds to leave their honeymoon suites and rush to the Temple for prayer? It seems that a plague of locusts was decimating the crops and bringing Israel to the brink of a national disaster. So in the face of such calamity, Joel called everyone to join the priests in prayers of repentance and intercession.
Joel linked the locust plague to the people’s spiritual state. He saw that many had stopped following the Lord and were adopting the ways of the world. The locusts were not just a national disaster; God was using them to wake his people up. And it worked: The people gathered in prayer and repentance. And in response, God restored them and gave them a bounteous harvest.
This Ash Wednesday, God is issuing a serious call to all of us. Will we allow him to search us and show us the areas in our lives that need to be cleansed? Will we gather in prayer and turn our hearts to the Lord more fully? Sin is a serious threat. Like a locust, it has the potential to destroy so much we hold dear.
But there is hope! Just as he did for the people in Joel’s time, God stands ready this Lent to forgive us and restore us. As St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading, now is the time of salvation! Today, this very season, is a time of grace.
So heed Joel’s call! Join your brothers and sisters in prayer and fasting this Lent. Make this season a special time of prayer and devotion to the Lord. We can see measurable changes in our lives over the next six weeks if we come together and pray.
Pray: “Jesus, I want to be made whole this Lent. Thank you for this season of healing, restoration, and hope. Come, Lord, and restore me from the inside out.”